In an industry first, Tesco and Faerch have developed a closed loop recycling solution that ensures the secondary plastic packaging used to transport and hold products on Tesco shelves is retained by the food packaging industry and recycled back into new food contact primary packaging.
Until recently, PET shelf ready packaging – widely used by UK supermarkets to transport products – was used once and downcycled into non-food applications. Now, through a new ‘tray to tray’ initiative, Tesco’s secondary PET will be collected by Faerch and through their advanced recycling process used to make new, food contact PET pots, tubs and trays.
Packaging for Tesco’s own brand cut fruit, selected yoghurts and meat will be guaranteed to contain 30% rPET that originated in Tesco stores. To achieve this, Tesco will require all its own brand and branded suppliers to use food contact approved PET for shelf ready packaging.
With ever increasing demand for PET bottle flake, the recycling setup in Tesco stores provides a solution in addressing the shortfall in recycled PET availability.
Both companies have signed-up to a multiyear supply agreement.
William Guest, Sustainable Packaging Manager at Tesco said: “Wherever we can, we remove or reduce packaging but where it is needed we want to improve circularity to make our packaging as sustainable as possible. One way we can do that is by ensuring packaging that meets food contact requirements remains within the food packaging sector, being recycled back into food contact packaging. This collaboration with Faerch will ensure that each year 2,000 tonnes of PET is recycled to make new Tesco packaging that otherwise would have been downcycled into non-food applications.”
Mark Tollman, Group Strategic Sales Director from Faerch commented: “This is a perfect example of how collaboration between packaging manufacturers, retailers and their suppliers can deliver lasting change and material circularity. The ‘Tray 2 Tray by Faerch’ project demonstrates that PET packaging can be recovered and recycled at an industrial level and made back into food grade pots and trays.”
Tesco is tackling the impact of plastic waste through its 4Rs strategy – to remove packaging where they can, reduce it where they can’t, reuse more and recycle what’s left.
Since the inception of the strategy in 2019, Tesco has removed a billion pieces of plastic from its UK business, and aims to remove a further half a billion this year. Tesco has additionally reduced the materials used each year in its packaging by more than 2000 tonnes and recently launched reusable packaging service Loop in ten stores and new soft plastic recycling facilities across all large stores.